Farm Blog

Thank you again for braving the blizzard to celebrate, connect with great food, and 'planting an orchard'! Just imagine all those future cherry trees (don't forget to squat:-).
I am so uplifted from all the good vibes, intentions, laughter and seeds shared and planted.

We were able to raise $850.00 in funds! This will go a long way, thank you! Additionally, with all the seeds donated today and from what I've gleaned from others, The women growers in the Sine-Saloum region will be able to plant out a couple hundred row feet/farm. In the past we've planted shared 'demonstration beds' ie since many of the farmers share space/land to grow on we've constructed seeds beds to trial different varieties, plant insectory herbs and flowers and share techniques. From there seeds are harvested and shared forward amongst the individual farmers. So in essence your generosity helped plant teaching/learning/eating/

sharing beds of veggie, herb, and flower goodness!

I will honor my commitment and extend the immense gratitude, generosity that was shared during the workshop with the women farmers in the following ways:

Work with NCBA CLUSA Farmer to Farmer Program to transfer funds and mail seeds.
I'll also email and share highlights, photos forward later this week in celebration of our workshop success.

I am tentatively set to travel there Nov/Dec. or January in 2016.

I also finally remembered the name of third grower group, JUBO (means widespread). If you're interested in learning more about how they got started, here's a link to an interview I did as part of my last Farmer to Farmer adventure in Senegal.

I Will keep you in the loop as the project evolves and thanks again for sharing your generous spirit!

For the chocolate lovers:
Becky Otte, who made the amazing truffles, has more of her chocolate goodness to share and is selling some of her creations just in time for Valentines. if you're interested send her an email:

Also Here is a link to Roots Chocolate website.

For the Fruit Lovers:

I've enclosed a handout of some of the different fruits we grow at our farm as well as a flyer highlighting this season's events at the farm! We'd love to have you venture out and tour the orchard, come visit us (though not nearly as cool as the orchard poses we did during the workshop).

Thank you again for helping me transition from being a butterfly weed seed (ie wind pollinated, not knowing where or how my intentions, projects might stick) to more of an oak or cashew seeds - wherein I can deepen my awareness, provide support in the same place(s) in Senegal for the growers and in my backyard in Wisconsin:-). Here's to planting the seeds of the as yet to be imagined on and off the yoga mat! Wishing you all much abundance.

Happy Mid-winter!

Yours in hardy kiwi,

PS If you are into exploring the planting side as well as enjoying more local fruit creations, we'll be hosting a Local Fruit Tasting May 16, details on our website.


The Allure of Alliums, Bees, and Signs of Spring Prosperity

“O.k. Girls, hang in there just a couple more weeks until the dandelions, daffodils, alliums and saskatoon blossoms unfurl,” I relay to our honeybees. Rob and I gently place a surplus jar of maple syrup that my mother sacrificed for the bees from this year's sugar run.

“For now you will have to settle for syrup and witch hazel, the latter flashing it's discreet yellow blossoms at the forest edge,” I tell the bees. We placed the cover back on the hive and weighted it down with a few stones, to deter the skunks.

Honeybees on a cleansing flight at the farm on March 11. Photo by Diane Mikonowicz

Honeybees on a cleansing flight at the farm on March 11. Photo by Diane Mikonowicz

We calmly walked away from the hive, sending the bees love, silently cheering them on, until we were far enough from the hive that we could burst into a dance! “They made it through the winter!” This is the first time in our three years keeping bees that our 'girls' made it through a Wisconsin winter, and we are anxious to try our luck at splitting the hive. But that will have to wait until the apple blossoms bud just past the 'ice days of May', as my great-grandpa Frank would say. Spring wake up on the farm is all about anticipation—an artesion upwelling from the deep well of winter that you feel in your bones and in the frost heaves of soil. Soon this energy will blossom forth and the cycle of the seasons will once again remind us to be bold, stay grounded and wake up to the rhythm of the Earth.

On our farm, Spring also means the start of another CSA season and anticipation of harvests to come. This year, I am excited to be partnering with Orange Cat Community Farm to offer flower shares—sharing CSA drop-sites and the season's blooms in the local Sauk County area. I love to share flowers and how flowers inspire me at our farm and have inspired, delighted, confounded, forgiven, and wowed us through the ages. Flowers and herbs paint the landscape, bringing beauty and balance while serving a variety of ecological functions – working in tandem with the microbes as soil builders adding structure and fertility to the rhizosphere, as food for our honeybees and native pollinator friends, as pest managers and companion plants to our fruits and vegetables, as illuminators of the landscape with their color and beauty, and to provide for a diversity of culinary and medicinal uses on our farm. They also hold their own language and symbol.

Ramps, or Wild Leeks, are another early sign of spring and member of the allium genre. Photo by Erin Schneider

Ramps, or Wild Leeks, are another early sign of spring and member of the allium genre. Photo by Erin Schneider

Of the roughly 200,000 flowering plants laying down their roots around the world, about 12,334 call Wisconsin their home. Some flowers thrive in vases, others hold up with a little encouragement from flower friends, and others are just destined to remain in the prairie and orchard wilds. Through our years growing flowers and trialing vase life with different blooms, we've discovered which flowers thrive at our farm and hold well in a bouquet (ie last for more than 5 – 7 days in a vase).

Photo: Globe alliums integrated into a centerpiece bouquet as part of a wedding bouquet. Photo by Erin Schneider

With the start of the CSA season, I thought I'd start at the beginning of the alphabet in sharing my love for floriography with Alliums. It's also fitting that Alliums tend to emerge in tandem with dandelions. While I know there are a myriad of ways to enjoy dandelions, blossoms included, we tend to leave the composite heads to be sipped by the bees. Alliums, however, hold a bit of mystic and myth as a symbol of prosperity and unity for life-long loves. *In Hindu myth, Sachi-the wife of Indra, king fo the Gods, tried to sip the nectar of immortality. She could not digest the nector, and so expelled it tot he Earth. From this spilled nectar, the allium flower blossomed.

On our farm, we love to snip and share alliums in both our vegetable and flower CSA shares. As members of the amarylidaceae family, alliums are prized for their pungnacious scent and role as 'aromatic pest confusers' in the garden. They often adorn the base of our fruit guilds in the orchard and border our vegetable CSA beds, couched between the marigolds and borage. I've watched my nieces and nephews hold allium blossoms like magic wands and sparklers. I've observed the bees and sometimes as many as 12 different insect species working the flowers as the weather warms. Species within the allium genre, such as garlic chives and globe onion can be savored in your vase and later on your dinner plate.

Globe allium pillars gracing a wedding ceremony bouquet. Photo by Erin Schneider

Globe allium pillars gracing a wedding ceremony bouquet. Photo by Erin Schneider

I am fortunate to witness alliums' flower in unity with the bees –a telling tale of prosperity (and honey) to come. As I retire our pruners and loppers for the day, I sit back and gaze across the slopes of the orchard. Soon it will be abuzz with allium's unifying influorescence, inviting us all to join the bees in sipping in the sweet rewards and timeless love of the land waking up to Spring.

*Floriography notes Referenced from a mix of research into the Victorian language of flowers, the book Seeing Flowers by Chace & Llewellyn, Green Hope Farm and Bach Flower Essences, Rosemary Gladstone, Wikipedia, and personal experience with the poetry and language of flower power.